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May 13, 2020 42 min
Diversity Matters with Oscar Holmes IV Season 1 Episode 4 Episode Title: Creating Effective Diversity Initiatives: The PhD Project Story Guest: Bernie Milano   Diversity Matters with Oscar Holmes IV is a podcast that explores all things diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) related. In each episode, Oscar and his guests have lively discussions around DEI topics, explore the latest research on the topic, and discuss the implications so that listeners will be more knowledgeable about the topics and be able to apply the insights to their lives.   Show Summary: In this episode, Bernie Milano, the former president of the KPMG Foundation and the founder of The PhD Project. A CPA, shares the reason behind this project and what challenges he faced while building the organization. Despite the struggles, he still managed to build a legacy because his purpose was not only for himself but for the people who needed his help.   When they were starting, they didn’t have a clear action plan but knew what they wanted to accomplish. Partnering up with organizations like National Association of Black Accountants, National Black MBA Association, Association of Hispanic MBAs and 10 more organizations allowed them to bring their message to the right people and that took them one step ahead of the game.   This helped them broaden their network and encourage people to get their PHDs. Their mission to wholeheartedly support employees of colors to become professors & leaders has been their fuel & achievement for many years of their project’s existence.   Description: This episode shows a unique kind of experience. It proves that people of different colors can come together to achieve a common goal. Helping each other genuinely creates a great impact not only to an individual but to the whole society.   Be driven by your purpose. Listen to the stories of the people you meet. Create a legacy that will leave a mark in the history and the hearts of the people you serve.   Guest Contact & Promos:  3 Value Bombs:     We are all products of our life experiences.   I think it's true of almost anything you try to do with your life or with your career you have to have, you have to be authentic. You have to have a genuine interest and passion for what it is you're trying to do. It's important to get up in the morning to know you have a reason to get up and you have a purpose for that day. Show Highlights:    Why did you feel the need to start The PhD Project and why were you the right person to start it? 4:16 Bernie   Well, you know, it's interesting. I ran recruiting for KPMG for a couple decades as the National department in charge of University Relations. And from a professional standpoint and the firm's standpoint and our goals and our values, as well as my own personal interest, I'm very frustrated about not being able to find we'll call them students of color. I don't want to offend anyone, but the focus in the PhD project is really on African, Hispanic and Native American so I am very frustrated about not being able to find the students of color no matter where we went unless we went to an HBCU.   Can you share with us some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in founding this organization and specific strategies and alliances you employed in order to overcome those challenges?   6:20 Bernie   When we started, we didn't have a clue what we were doing but we knew we wanted to accomplish. We tried to harness some talent around the table, reached out to some organizations like advertising firms and others. And, you know, what we were told was the most effective thing to do in order to get our message out, was to use direct mail. What portion of your success in founding The PhD Project would you attribute to your being a cis-heterosexual White man?   8:39 Bernie   Well, I've never really thought of it that way. You know, we are all people. We are all products of our life experiences. And even though I would be categorized as a white male, heterosexual my life experiences starting all the way back when I was working in my dad's dry cleaning store where we had employees Employees of color and we only had four employees, including me and three of them were African American.   I thought we went to a diverse High School. But as I look back on that high school, I realized that all of the African American students and their families, we're living in one little section of our town, which was called match down, which was a horrible, horrible reference to it. So it just accumulates and accumulates it so you know, I have a passion for what we were doing.   What advice can you give others who want to be good allies   15:28 Bernie    I think it's true of almost anything you try to do with your life or with your career you have to have, you have to be authentic. You have to have a genuine interest and passion for what it is you're trying to do. Because if you're not genuine, if you're not authentic, if passion doesn't drip through every conversation, every interaction you have, you're just not going to be successful.   When I I was asked to be the speaker at a presidential inauguration and years ago, it was really wonderful. I flew out to California to do it. She told me I was the third choice, but that's okay. I didn't mind that at all. And she said, you know, Bernie, tell me, tell me how you got to where you are in this incredible interest and passion and energy you have around diversity and new words that come up like inclusion and belonging, but it's all the same thing.   What specific advice can you give executives who are at these large companies like KPMG who want to start effective, DEI initiatives & what steps should they take?   19:24 Bernie   We know some executives were around the table thinking about their product line, thinking about their competitors, thinking about the economy, thinking about their R&D, they would be having really serious conversations. People who were significant players in the organization would be assigned to a task force to figure out well, I know how, what can we do?   Within an alumni community that is so much larger than the current doctoral students in a PhD project, how is the emphasis evolving to serve this increasingly larger segment of the PhD project family?   29:42 Bernie   I think Oscar you know this that we've now formed alumni organizations so that when our doctoral students come together at their conferences, of which we have five, by academic discipline, when they come together at their conference, usually in the summer, the leading day of that conference is devoted to the Alumni coming back, trying to represent so that they, they continue to know they're supported, they talk about how to get tenure. Call to Action: Subscribe to Diversity Matters and get exclusive access to all episodes of Beyond the Mill, which is my live diversity dialogues talk show that I host on campus at Rutgers University-Camden.    Episode Sponsor Links:    Producer Links:   Host Social Media Links:   Subscribe to Diversity Matters  , , , , , , , and  
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